Explore Arizona: Sunrise Park and Navajo County

When Hubby and I were courting some 25-odd years ago, we spent many weekends exploring the beauty and diversity of this great state of Arizona.  It is not all cacti and desert.  With the exception of an ocean view, there is much to offer, from the dude ranches down south in Douglas, to the majesty of the Grand Canyon in the north near Flagstaff.  Recently, we found ourselves at the Sunrise Ski Resort for a wonderful day of skiing, and Hubby and I realized it had been 22 years since we had last visited.  Where has the time gone?  There is so much to experience in this state with the kids, and all within a 4-5 hour drive.  Therefore, we have determined that this is the year we are going to see more local attractions.  We were off to a good start, having driven up the Beeline Highway from the capital city of Phoenix (where we live) through Show Low and Pinetop.  Using the town of Snowflake as our base, we were within an hour drive of Sunrise (SE) and Holbrook (due north), where we took in the sights of the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.

Snowflake was founded in 1878 by two Mormon pioneers by the name of Erastus Snow and William Flake.  It is a quiet town of roughly 5,500 inhabitants in Navajo County, with a charming main street lined with historic homes.  We stayed at the lovely Heritage Inn Bed and Breakfast, a restored 1890 Victorian home, where owners Craig and Joanne took great care of us.  They have maps and information for all nearby excursions, and we even borrowed a CD tour of the Petrified Forest that is really a must-have (also can be purchased at the entrance to the park).

It is important to note that most dining establishments in Snowflake are closed Sundays and Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly.  The kids and I had been to Snowflake a couple times before, and one of our go-tos is Enzo’s Ristorante Italiano.  Enzo’s may be unlike any dining experience you have had, as it is not only run by Enzo, who is from Sicily, but he is also the chef, host, waiter, busboy, and washer.  In short, a one-man show.  He likens the experience to dining at someone’s home, and asks for patrons to have patience, as he can only wait on one table at a time.  Our favorites are his fried mozzarella sticks, the KOA sandwich (which we ordered to split as an appetizer), and the chicken and pesto.  Also good to know, it is BYOB.

Heading up the Beeline Highway out of Phoenix.

Heading up the Beeline Highway out of Phoenix.

Shortly, you will find yourself above the "saguaro" line and heading towards the Mogollon Rim.

Shortly, you will find yourself above the “saguaro” line and heading towards the Mogollon Rim.

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In Snowflake, we stayed at the Heritage Inn Bed and Breakfast on Main St.

In Snowflake, we stayed at the Heritage Inn Bed and Breakfast on Main St.

Catching the sunset in Northern AZ.

Catching the sunset in Northern AZ.

Joann, owner of the Heritage Inn, makes German Babies for breakfast.

Joann, owner of the Heritage Inn, makes these amazing German Babies for breakfast.

At Enzo's Ristorante Italiano in Snowflake, everyone is crazy for the mozzarella sticks.

At Enzo’s Ristorante Italiano in Snowflake, everyone is crazy for the mozzarella sticks.

Signs upon entering Enzo's that this is not an ordinary restaurant experience.

Signs upon entering Enzo’s that this is not an ordinary restaurant experience.

Sunrise Park Resort is located in northeastern Arizona in the White Mountains on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.  With 65 runs and 7 lifts at an elevation ranging from 9,200 to 11,000, Sunrise encompasses a total skiable area of 800 acres.  We hit it shortly after a snow storm, so with a respectable 40″ base it, was perfect “bluebird” ski day.

Sunrise Park Resort on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation.

Sunrise Park Resort on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

From the summit at Sunrise, at 10, 700 feet you can see into New Mexico.

From the summit at Sunrise, at 10, 700 feet you can see into New Mexico.

The architecture of some of the warming huts on the mountain will take you back a couple of years (or decades).

The architecture of some of the warming huts on the mountain will take you back a couple of years (or decades).

An open-faced carne asada burrito on Indian fry bread.

An open-faced carne asada burrito on Indian fry bread.

For the last day of our Northern Arizona road trip, we drove north of Snowflake to the town of Holbrook, located on historic Route 66, then right on Highway 180 to the south entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park.  The main park road stretches 28 miles, with stops and spurs along the way.  I would suggest planning several hours, if not a whole day to explore it all.  Bring your own food and snacks, and purchase some sort of guide or audio tape to enhance the experience.  We stopped at a few overlooks, but the highlight for us was the mile walk through the Blue Mesa Trail.  The park road then winds around a section of Interstate 40, where the north entrance to the park is located, offering stunning views of the Painted Desert.  The kids were getting a little hungry and grouchy at this point so we called it a day and headed back to Phoenix.  We did not stop at the Painted Desert Inn, a 1920’s building that was made of petrified wood with murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie located near the south entrance, but will have to do it another time!  Hope you have some fun travels planned for 2017!!  xoM

At Jim Grey's mineral shop on the way to the Petrified Forest National Park, there are many treasures to see, but rest assured, not all are as expensive as this one.

At Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. on Highway 180 in Holbrook, there are many treasures to see, but rest assured, not all are as expensive as this one.  It is a great spot to buy petrified wood souvenirs prior to entering the park, as tourists are restricted from taking any petrified wood from the park.

The entrance to the Petrified Forest National Park off Highway ??.

The entrance to the Petrified Forest National Park off Highway 180.

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A stop to hike down into the Blue Mesa is worthwhile.

A stop to hike down into the Blue Mesa is worthwhile.

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Heritage Inn Bed & Breakfast

161 Main Street, Snowflake, AZ 85937  (866) 486-5947

http://www.heritage-inn.net/

 

Enzo’s Italian Ristorante

423 W 3rd St N, Snowflake, AZ 85937   (928) 243-0450

 

Sunrise Park Resort

Hwy 273, Greer, AZ 85927  (928) 735-7400

http://www.sunriseskiparkaz.com

 

Petrified Forest National Park

http://www.national-park.com/welcome-to-petrified-forest-national-park/

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3 Comments

  • John Finley

    Sounds like you all had a great family trip…that B&B in Snowflake looks like a hoot! Thanks for these updates and HAPPY 2017!!!

  • Sylvia Canelos

    Great info for our next ski trip to Sunrise!

  • Explore Arizona: Canyon de Chelly – Texaz Taste
    May 12, 2017 - 1:18 pm

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